Using Starling in Peru 🇵🇪


ATM: Most ATM’s here will charge a fee to withdraw, highest I’ve seen is S/18. However, Banco de la Nacion/Multi-Red do not charge a fee but limited to S/400 (approx £90) per day. BCP also do not charge, but limited to 1 withdrawal of S/700 max per month.

POS: Chip, Swipe and Contactless all work here. Some machines will take the money in local currency, others will prompt (obv choose local currency for MC rate). Also, in Peru they have a system where you can choose to pay over 12 months. I have no idea if it would actually work (I doubt it) but you need to choose “sin quotas”.

Acceptance: All big retailers, chains etc accept Mastercard. Medium businesses are probably 60/40 in MC favour, but Visa is more common. Small restaurants etc are cash only usually. Outside of the cities (i.e. Lima) you’ll definitely need cash for most things.

Notes: Credit cards in Peru require ID to be presented, however debit cards do not. However retailers may still ask and it’s at their discretion. Usually when they’ve asked its because they have assumed it’s a credit card.


The times I used the card in Peru in restaurants I was charged an additional 20%. Have stopped and reverted to my Visa debit. Starling offer no support other than to suggest taking it up with the merchant.


This is normal, the transaction will revert to the correct amount when it finalises. this happens with all of my cards.

  1. Starling purchases work great in Peru. The amount charged often/usually seems about 20% more than correct for the first few hours (for example you pay 18 Soles but the app says you paid 23 Soles) which is wrong and causes unnecessary stress but always reverts to the correct amount a few hours later. Starling should fix this.
  2. In Peru, credit cards require a signature and showing photo ID and on the printed slip usually give an option of adding a written gratuity. This is a problem because in Peru dishonest places fairly often add a gratuity after you have gone (even though you did not leave a gratuity or left one in cash). Of course you can dispute this, if you notice and can be bothered. Better to use a debit card which stops this option from occurring. All other VISA and Mastercard Debit cards do not require a signature and showing photo ID and since there is no printed voucher to sign, so dishonest places cannot add a gratuity after you have gone. There is a fault in that Starling debit card use in Peru accepts your PIN at the point of sale and then ALWAYS requires a signature (and often photo ID), which is a hassle and leaves you vulnerable to dishonest gratuities being added. In Peru, the Starling debit card seems to be mis-recognised as a credit card. Starling should fix this.
  3. Relatedly, ATM in Peru that allow free use with other debit cards (like for example BanBif bank and Fagabella banks that are free for ATM withdrawals with for example both Nationwide Flex bank and N&P bank) charge a hefty several UK pound charge for each Starling cash withdrawal. I raised this fault with Starling who were rather useless about it, saying that they don’t charge ATM fees but can’t control what ATMs charge, probably because their card is being miss-recognised. And that getting a replacement Starling card would make not difference. This misses the point - they are not charging, but a fault with their card causes the user to be charged incorrectly.

Starling need to fix their card seemingly being mis-recognised as a Credit card in Peru to resolve these issues which make Starling a poor option for purchases and a near useless option for cash withdrawals in Peru.


This is unfortunately outside Starling’s control.

The card schemes (Visa and MasterCard) reuse and reallocate BIN (the six digit prefix of any bank card number) so a number block assigned to the UK as a Debit card may have previously been assigned to Australia as Credit card or USA as a Prepaid for example.

Therefore any card terminal operators, be they for POS or ATM, should regularly update any BIN database they rely on for identifying card types.

One major operator in Bulgaria has recently done so, and hopefully those in Peru will catch up eventually too.


According to (which looks outdated) the 557435 BIN was previously used by “Zurn FCU” as Visa in the USA, not sure if for debit or credit.


Great report, @CAE.


I’ve never been required to present photo ID. I’ve been living in Peru for 11 months. I just always put random numbers in the ID field, never been asked for any proof of ID.

Also, in places i use regular, i.e. Tottus, Plaza Vea, pizza hut, mcdonalds etc, no signature required.


Only in some restaurants in my experience. Never for a purchase.


Do (or did) Visa issue any card/PAN numbers beginning with “5”? :thinking:

To my knowledge Visa PANs commence “4” while MasterCard PANs begin “5”. The first digit of a card number - or PAN - is known as the Major Industry Identifier - or MII - and these follow ISO rules.


MasterCard 2
Amex and JCB 3
Visa 4
MasterCard and Maestro 5
UnionPay, RuPay and Discover 6

Though there are also other cards like Diners which fall in more than one prefix block as an exception to the general rule.

Most cards will be 16 digits long, however, Visa do issue card numbers of variable length between 13 and 19 digits.


I just want to add this, as it’s really starting to annoy me now.

  1. The app has over-zealous security which disables it and gives a red-herring error message when you are using what it deems to be public wifi or a VPN. This means that even when using data via my phone, it sometimes incorrectly thinks my connection isn’t secure (never mind that SSL over any connection is secure but that’s another discussion). This means no instant notifications for transaction, no ability to use the app, even “offline”.

As I’m sure those that travel can appreciate, often you are using “free” wifi any chance you can get.

  1. Transactions made in Peru are nearly always listed as being in some random location in or near Liverpool, UK. I can understand (not really tbh) perhaps that Starling don’t want to buy location data for every country, but if you don’t have it, why fill it with incorrect data?


Hey @Adam24218 - on your second point, you are able to submit corrections to merchants through the app. If you have time to put some suggestions in, we’ll take a look through them! :slight_smile:


I have done and some have been updated, however there is no indicator to tell me if I have previously and in the end it become more frustrating than incorrect addresses. There needs to be some sort of feedback on this imo, to save us going around in loops resubmitting, especially if for some reason you reject the submission.